As I and many people in my sphere reflect on this past year and project into the coming year, time and time again the idea of holding a ‘scarcity mindset’ vs holding an ‘abundance mindset’ comes up.
These terms have become buzzwords in recent years, especially in the self-development and mental health ecosystem but I often struggle with both of these concepts.
In all of my, granted anecdotal, history – I have never once experienced life in either context of this spectrum.
This spectrum, as much as I try to incorporate into my mindset, always concludes to be ‘irrelevant’ or more accurately a ‘non-sequitur’ to the things that we typically tie these phrases to.
Money. Health. Happiness.
We try to tie ‘an abundance mindset’ to all of these things and more but none of them seem to have anything to do with scarcity or abundance.
Here’s the reality I see in front of me and I root this on a fundamental distinction we have seemingly lost in the main stream conversation and culture.
Needs vs. Wants Caveat
The assumption I am making, always, is that someone is able to and having the ability to earn enough money to cover their needs.
To me, needs is defined by the following: housing around loved ones, food and accessibility to social services (hospitals, healthcare, etc).
If you don’t have these three basic things, your experience of life will not be pleasant.
But often times, we interpret the pursuit of making more money, or having a ‘healthier’ life or ‘attaining’ happiness as a matter of scarcity and abundance – when that simply doesn’t follow the logic.
If you are experiencing ‘scarcity’ and now trying to experience ‘abundance’ when it comes to money – what you are actually needing to do is increase your value to others so they are more willing to give you their money.
This can occur in hundreds of different ways depending on your context.
It has nothing to do with if there is ‘enough money’ or not ‘enough money’.
The question is, how are you going to create a situation where people are more willing to give you more money than your current offering.
Health, as I have alluded to in a previous note (Health Is Not Wealth) is not something you ‘obtain’; as much as the marketing apparatus tries to convince you to believe.
Health is an inevitably fleeting asset that you hold in it’s entirety from day one.
How well you eat and how well you stay active physically and emotionally will determine how quickly your health depletes.
It’s already yours.
Happiness (Joy) and Fulfillment
Happiness and a state of joy is a state of mind, not a destination.
As a personal philosophy, I feel we have gotten the order of operations mixed up with these ideas.
Happiness and joy is not to be experienced through life but LIFE must be experienced through happiness and joy.
This mindset change is critical and something I work heavily on with private clients and I usually begin by explaining it this way.
Physiologically, we as human beings work at our ‘peak performance’ in two states.
One state is being under stress and the other state being when we are in a state of joy.
Because let me ask you one thing, when do you think you will do your best work – when you are fully relaxed or under pressure to meet a deadline?
When do you think you will do your best work, when you are feeling miserable and lethargic or when you are in a good mood and thus full of energy?
Thus it is easier to see that the goal in life is not to achieve joy and happiness, that is simply the starting point.
The goal is, through happiness and joy, to experience life. This is when you will do your greatest work.
To experience life is our opportunity.
Why would we allow any amount of it to pass by before we begin to experience it fully?
All of this is to say I don’t feel adopting ‘an abundance’ mindset really helps change anything (I know, such a popular opinion).
I think it gives people the mental license to not take action and follow through with things they ought to in their pursuit of their own vision.
I fear this mentality does the inverse of what we would hope.
It creates a sense of patience with our immediate routines while creating an inevitable frustration and impatience with our long term vision.
When realistically it should be the opposite.
We should be ambitious and strive to accomplish things swiftly and in a timely manner in the micro while giving ourselves the grace of patience for our overall vision (macro).
I think I could go on and on about different ideas that I shared in this note but I’ll stop here by simply challenging you with the following notion:
“Scarcity” and “Abundance” are distractions.
Stop finding reasons to do or not do something.
Just be the reason.